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Talisman RPG: What Makes It Unique?

Talisman the board game is great but certainly has a beer and pretzels quality that I thought would carry over to the RPG. Instead, Talisman Adventures Fantasy Roleplaying Game is a nuanced dark fairy tale set in a magical world of competing alignments, ancestries, and powers. It impresses me.

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I love Talisman the board game. I’ve bought everything for it since second edition and played it consistently over the decades. I even wrote about how to use it as a D&D Adventure Generator Using Talisman the Board Game. I received a free PDF of the RPG to review.

Talisman Adventures FRPG takes everything wonderful about the board game, puts a fairy tale twist on it, and provides a living, breathing world to experience everything in. PCs can go on challenging adventures in a long-term campaign. The RPG is not about one quest to claim the Crown of Command. It is about hundreds of quests for a variety of different reason driven by the PCs. In addition, the game has a real old school feel while maintaining modern design sensibilities. There is alignment, traps, ten levels of advancement, and more.

Everything in Talisman Adventures FRPG is driven by kismet or fate. Player characters have light fate and Game moderators have dark that drive many game mechanics. PCs often have two choices for character advancement with an either or option. If your scout becomes a guide he cannot also become a brigand. Fate, once chosen, leads along different paths. The game uses 3d6 with a kismet die that can create additional harmful or helpful effects.

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Ancestries

Talisman has dwarves, elves, humans, and even sprites and trolls. More unusual is the ghoul as a playable character. Unique, however, is the leywalker.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I made three others, just to see what would happen.” —Rifran Fristscion Evirseed, Wayfinder
A leywalker manifests the inherent magic of the Realm itself. Known as Children of the Portal, the leywalker is deeply connected to the magical webs of magical power that crisscross their world.

Leywalkers can create portal anchors that allow them to teleport. They also have inherent magic points that they can use to do psychic damage, share with others casters, or use themselves if they are a spellcaster.

Alignment

Good, evil, and neutrality are inherent qualities to the Talisman world. A character’s alignment can dictate what magic items they can use. Different places may be dedicated to good or evil with different effects depending on the character’s alignment.

No Initiative

Combat flows based on what actions the player characters want to take. Initiative is not hard and fast but instead is fluid based on the circumstances. However, each PC gets to take one turn before any other PC takes a second action.

Priests Don’t Use Weapons

Priests can kill using spells. But they take a vow not to use weapons. Some priests lean into this motif and focus on healing. Other priests develop cold hearts and can return the harm others cause them with weapons to a spell they later cast.

Prophets Suffer from Visions

Prophets either receive clear visions but suffer if they talk or write clearly about them, or they receive clouded and confusing visions that they can talk about. Either way, prophets know a lot but their lives are messed up.

Followers

Strangers and even Enemies can become a Follower. A Follower gives the PC they follow special abilities just like those gained from ancestry or class. Followers have Loyalty that must be maintained. If Loyalty ever falls to 0 for 24 hours, the Follower departs.

Random Encounters

Talisman is full of random tables and random encounters to assist the GM in adventure building. Random tables are included for a variety of different circumstances from random benefits a Follower provides to PC aspirations to what monsters are encountered.

Can you use the board game with the RPG? Yes. The Fate counters translate directly. The miniatures will work well and the cards can be used as hand outs of sorts. You will also see magic items, spells, and more make a direct translation from board to RPG. Becoming a slimy, little toad is still a thing.

This RPG is wonderful. It is different enough from both the board game and other fantasy RPGs that I would find new surprises to enjoy. It has its own depth and developed setting. Yet it is also familiar is many ways, with great old school vibes, and in many ways like the board game from which it springs. If anything could bring me back to running a fantasy RPG, Talisman Adventures Fantasy Roleplaying Game would be it. Highly recommended.
 

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Charles Dunwoody

Charles Dunwoody




jhilahd

Explorer
Thanks for this review!
I was intrigued by Guys discussion on this over on Youtube.
The Combat sounds fantastic. For instance, the GM doesn't roll, from what I understand, so when a player attacks and misses they take damage. If they are attacked they roll to defend. Simple pressures of putting those things back on the players sounds like they can help keep them engaged more. All of a sudden that whiffle of a miss is costly.

 

Thanks for this review!
I was intrigued by Guys discussion on this over on Youtube.
The Combat sounds fantastic. For instance, the GM doesn't roll, from what I understand, so when a player attacks and misses they take damage. If they are attacked they roll to defend. Simple pressures of putting those things back on the players sounds like they can help keep them engaged more. All of a sudden that whiffle of a miss is costly.


Yeah, the GM doesn't roll. This has at least two effects beyond a succeed or not succeed. As you say, it involves the players more. Also, one of the 3 d6s rolled is the Kismet die which can generate everything from extra Light or Dark Fate to triggering special powers of the PCs or enemies. Because the players roll, Fate is literally in their hands. A not subtle awesome addition to the game that really drives the theme home without being metagamy (mechanics that use metagaming aren't my cup of tea).
 





Stacie GmrGrl

Adventurer
Thanks for this review!
I was intrigued by Guys discussion on this over on Youtube.
The Combat sounds fantastic. For instance, the GM doesn't roll, from what I understand, so when a player attacks and misses they take damage. If they are attacked they roll to defend. Simple pressures of putting those things back on the players sounds like they can help keep them engaged more. All of a sudden that whiffle of a miss is costly.

This is what has me excited the most. TA does something, IMO, that rpgs have not really done well which is the feel of simultaneous opposed combat.

It was fun watching Guy GM the one shot he ran on his channel. The combat system being as fluid as it is made the game really shine.

It's brilliant game design.
 


Is this a PDF only release?
PDF available at DTRPG, hardcover preorders available online.

One thing to remember when looking, tho: Talisman: Legendary Tales is a family boardgame set in the same world. I mention it just to warn someone looking for Talisman Adventures to be aware they are looking at two different products.


I've bought the PDF, and it's pretty nifty. Charles' points on it pretty much match my own.
Unlike many games where the rolls are all player facing, there are some explicit rolls for certain things which the GM does.
Unlike all the other player-facing games I've run, this one combines the player attack and the player defense into one roll. (BTVS/Angel/Army of Darkness/Ghosts of Albion and DL5A all have player turn, then NPC/monster turn, with NPC/monster attacks being resist rolls. BtVS is symmetric, DL5A isn't, and DL5A is also card driven. Note that D&D 3.0 has an option for player facing rolls in the DMG, but again, NPC/M have their own turns. )

I want to bring Talisman Adventures to table.
 

Does the endgame involve going round and round in a tight loop around your objective?

I kid, I kid!

I like the fairy tale flavoring on this. If I were going with something with an old school British RPG vibe, it'd be a tough choice between Warlock and this.

From the PC side you can play a sprite and a druid. That gives a certain fairy tale vibe to start.

And druids have an interesting mission:
Druids have a complex relationship with the fey powers. Both druids and fey use Nature magic, derived
from a deep understanding of the Realm and the intricacies of its being. Where the fey would alter the
Realm into a strange and shrouded land all their own, most druids want to preserve the Realm as it is. At the
same time, the power of the fey is intertwined with the living world itself. Weakening one harms the other.
Druids seek a delicate balance between fey influence and mortal needs.


There there are the monsters. There are humanoids, monstrous beasts like manticores and dragons, and undead. Then then there are the 13 fae:

Boggart
Breeze Sylph
Brownie
Coblynau
Fae Witch
Fomorian
Knocker
Naiad
Pixies
Red Cap
Sidhe
Sluagh
White Stag.

Strangers too include fae like leprechaun and faeries. And interesting locations include a faery gate, faery glade, and a faery mound.

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Stacie GmrGrl

Adventurer
Loads RPGs where the GM doesn't roll. TA does sound interesting enough to stick in the purchase list

I haven't yet played a rpg that is player facing.

TA was a hard sell on my roommate. She hates the board game; one time we played she went through 7 characters in one night. She almost burned the copy we had so I gave it away. It was a near full complete set of 2nd edition.
 

I haven't yet played a rpg that is player facing.

TA was a hard sell on my roommate. She hates the board game; one time we played she went through 7 characters in one night. She almost burned the copy we had so I gave it away. It was a near full complete set of 2nd edition.

I don't get the hate for Talisman the boardgame. It can be hilarious. And you get all the fantasy: monsters, magic, spells, weird locations and people, and occasional horrible dice rolls. Really is my favorite boardgame. And nothing tops a great random well-timed Horrible Black Void. Keeps you humble and if it happens to your friend you may spew pop or beer out of your nose laughing. A wonderful game.

However, the RPG posits a more serious take on fantasy. Which makes sense if you want to play the same game for months rather than a one night board game.
 

I don't get the hate for Talisman the boardgame. It can be hilarious. And you get all the fantasy: monsters, magic, spells, weird locations and people, and occasional horrible dice rolls. Really is my favorite boardgame. And nothing tops a great random well-timed Horrible Black Void. Keeps you humble and if it happens to your friend you may spew pop or beer out of your nose laughing. A wonderful game.

However, the RPG posits a more serious take on fantasy. Which makes sense if you want to play the same game for months rather than a one night board game.
Basically, it often is "takes too long" and "Players MUST do PVP to win."
Add "roll and must move that far" and alienate another bunch.

Note that for the newer game, Talisman Legendary Tales, is even lighter, but as a full coop, is a fun light beer & pretzels level game.
 

I don't get the hate for Talisman the boardgame.
It's a product of an era when that sort of game wasn't possible on computers, so everyone had a high tolerance for its foibles. Today, a comparable experience can be found easily on one's phone and asking someone to commit to "how long? seriously?" for the board game typically requires a lot of back-in-the-day affection for it.

It's not alone in all of this, though: My brother and I used to play Dungeon! in a variant we called "Clean Out," in that we would play until every. single. room. was cleared, an experience that today would have just been done by playing Diablo or another roguelike for several hours.
 

Von Ether

Adventurer
I don't get the hate for Talisman the boardgame. It can be hilarious. And you get all the fantasy: monsters, magic, spells, weird locations and people, and occasional horrible dice rolls. Really is my favorite boardgame. And nothing tops a great random well-timed Horrible Black Void. Keeps you humble and if it happens to your friend you may spew pop or beer out of your nose laughing. A wonderful game.

However, the RPG posits a more serious take on fantasy. Which makes sense if you want to play the same game for months rather than a one night board game.
As for many games of that era, it typically outlasts its welcome long before it's actually finished.

And as another artifact of that era, too many players felt obligated to play to the end even when non one else was having fun anymore but the eventual winner and second place contender. If more people had had the courage to call it quits after only a couple of hours of play, there would be many more fonder memories like the one quoted above.
 

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